Learning New Tricks: Five Productive Practices Millennials Instinctively Grasp

Millennials don't just want to read the news anymore. They want to know what they can do about it. – Ian Somerhalder, American actor and entrepreneur. In recent years, I've heard managers gripe that Millennials are lazy, needy, entitled narcissists, non-team players with no sense of loyalty. From what I’ve observed in my client organizations, in my personal interactions, and with my own three Millennial children, none of these labels are true. Millennials do indeed have a sense of loyalty—to the causes and the people they care about. Businesses look out for themselves first—why shouldn’t people? More people should have this outlook! You can't expect loyalty when you offer none. The truth in some of the other claims lies in practices Millennials instinctively grasp because of their pe … [Read more...]

The Evenhanded Manager at Work: Four Characteristics of Fairness

"Fairness is not an attitude. It's a professional skill that must be developed and exercised." – Brit Hume, American journalist. Too often, those who rise to positions of power in the white-collar workplace are more concerned with holding tightly to their limited power, rather than liberally sharing trust, responsibility, and empowerment in order to boost that power. They fail to understand a basic reality: that while some people will take advantage of you if you're a laissez-faire manager, most will try harder than ever to prove they've earned what you've willingly offered. Wherever you fall on the managerial scale, realize that fairness and the perception of it are a very big deal to your employees (←click to tweet), determining in large part how willing they are to engage with their … [Read more...]

The Sunny Side of the Street: Four Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Positivity

"For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7, Holy Bible. Let's talk about brainwashing yourself. Okay, I'll admit that sounds a little strange; but when you get right down to it, brainwashing is a kind of pounded-in, acquired training you find very difficult to break. That's not always bad. I'm not talking about Manchurian Candidate-level conditioning, just self-teaching that helps you succeed. This involves simple, practical ways of rewiring your subconscious mind from negativity to positivity, so instead of being what a colleague of mine calls a "PITA negatron," you automatically look for the best side of any situation. Every affirmation you tell yourself each morning, every photo you look at to motivate yourself, every mantra you consider, every firm belief in … [Read more...]

When Good is Good Enough: Five Situations When Perfection Is Counterproductive

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.— Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Author of The Little Prince Ever heard the term "Good enough for government work?" I heard that a lot growing up in a military family. Despite how it may sound, it's neither a low-bidder type of comment, nor an excuse for poor work: It just means you've done the work to the required specifications and can move on. This is crucial when you've got a lot of non-critical tasks on your plate. There really are times when good enough is good enough—when perfection just gets in your way. You don’t always have to do a job perfectly! In this blog, we'll consider a few common cases where perfection is a waste of time and becomes the enemy of good. You don't want to … [Read more...]

Four Long Term Productivity Strategies: The Positive Side of Performance Improvement

"Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations."—Ralph Marston, American writer and motivational speaker. Mention the term "performance improvement" to another office worker, especially if you're in management or human resources, and they're likely to fall silent or turn pale. No matter how it's presented, most workers associate performance improvement with the "performance improvement plan," a common method of putting workers on probation and collecting evidence against them before they're terminated. Fair or not, the concept of performance improvement has become connected with that sort of sting. But let’s think about it another way! Ambitious, progressive workers who are truly engaged with their work are always eag … [Read more...]

Five Hints You Could Be an Underperformer… Even When No One Says Anything

“Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance?”—William Shakespeare, British playwright After years of loyalty to an employer, you may assume you’re doing good work even when no one takes the time to say it. Possibly you’ve hit a level of stability after struggling for a while, and conclude you must be doing fine, since no one has claimed otherwise. Or you may just feel complacent after achieving laurels and back-pats for doing good work in the past, to the point where you shift into automatic and count on routines to keep you on the right path. Just because no one brings it up, however, doesn’t mean you’re not under-performing. Some managers just assume you know what you’re doing and say nothing. Others may not want to say anything for fear of embarrassing you … [Read more...]

Stress is Only Bad If It’s Bad: Five Instances When Stress Is Good for You

"Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one." Hans Selye, Austrian-Canadian endocrinologist. Stress gets a bad rap it doesn't always deserve. Like millions of us, you're probably wary of any stress, especially when trying to juggle a reasonable work/life balance. But stress doesn't get you in the end: what does is strain, the unrelieved result of too much negative stress. According to mental health researchers, stress isn't always bad for you. They divide it into good and bad categories: eustress and distress, respectively. And you can even convert distress into eustress sometimes. Let's see how stress can sometimes help you. 1. When it triggers positive action. Low levels of stress—or even brief high levels of stress—can spur you into bursts of … [Read more...]

Tapping Into Your SUPERPRODUCTIVITY! Five Rocket Boosters for Success

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."—Francis of Assisi, Catholic saint Have you ever been faced with a large task, whereupon you dismissed everything else from your mind, put your head down, and got to work? How often have you "come to" later, only to find your task is done or near-done—and hours have passed almost without you noticing? I suspect it's happened to you more than once. It tends to happen fairly regularly to those of us engaged with our jobs and genuinely interested in doing well. It's kind of like highway hypnosis, except that instead of just going on autopilot, your mind and body have melded in such a way that you tap into what I call "super-productivity." Here are five ways to enter…The Super-Productivity … [Read more...]

Easy Integration: Getting New Team Members Up and Running Quickly

  "Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they're doing it because they care about the team."–Patrick Lencioni, American business author. Whether functioning as a team leader or a member, at some point in your career, you'll help integrate new people into your work group. (← click to tweet) Boom cycles, personnel turnover and team expansion are common times. Team members get promoted, start their own new teams, or move on to other jobs, while newbies come aboard. While this process can be disruptive to everyone on the team, it's also unavoidable. As with every business challenge, you can find ways handle this issue with a minimum of fuss, and even re-frame it as an opportunity. If nothing else, integrating new people into your team shows upper management your … [Read more...]

Standing Out Above the Crowd: How to Toot Your Own Horn

"Become addicted to constant and never-ending self-improvement." – Anthony J. D'Angelo, self-improvement author and speaker. When I was young and first heard the term "human resources," it took me a while to figure out what it meant. I wasn't used to thinking of people and their experiences, educations, and abilities as "resources," in the same sense that energy, materials, and supplies are resources. But looking at the equation from a hard-nosed business perspective, that's exactly what people are. In fact, personnel represent the most important part of any business equation, though we sometimes lose sight of this fact. As with all resources, smart businesses want to maximize the return on the investment they've made in you; this is why you're occasionally sent to training courses, q … [Read more...]